Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sequestration and the F-35. Kickin in China's Door.

Oh those Americans and their silly budget showdowns.   As some observers say, these confrontations have come to resemble kabuki theatre.

Sequestration is scheduled to take effect on March 1, a mere week away.   Budgets get cut about 10%.   The effects may not be terminal overall but some government projects could be hard hit.  The US Air Force is warning that means the F-35 programme might have to be restructured.

The entire Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme may have to be restructured if the Pentagon budget undergoes the full 10 year effects of sequestration.

Under the Congressional sequestration budgetary maneuver, the US Department of Defense's coffers would be automatically cut across the board by 10% every year for 10 years. That is on top of the $487 billion that has already been cut from the spending plan.

If the full sequestration were to take effect, "we're going to have to look completely at the [F-35] programme," US Air Force chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 12 February. "It's going to be impossible to modernize."

What this would mean for America and her allies is that apparently we wouldn't be able to operate quite so well in "contested airspace", which essentially means Chinese airspace.   This is how General Welsh puts it:

"Our kick in the door capability would be impacted."

Did you get that?   Our capability to kick in China's door would be impacted.   And that's a bad thing.  With China already re-arming furiously we wouldn't be able to make them quite as fearful that we might launch pre-emptive war on them.

That's what the F-35 is, it's a light attack bomber, it creates a "kick in the door capability."   Now does Canada really need a kick in the door capability?  Do we need to prepare and equip ourselves to kick in China's door?  Really?

Let's carry this scenario through a little bit.   If we kick in China's door, what do we have in mind just in case China decides to respond in kind?   Since we're only going to have light attack bombers, what are we going to do if China gets really mad and decides to kick in our door?   We don't have diddly squat to protect ourselves.   Maybe the Americans would protect us, maybe not.

Here's the deal.   Canada has enough to worry about just defending Canada.  Big country, small population, small military budget.  We don't need to focus on exhausting our military purse on "kick in the door" technology.   That's just plain stupid.  It might appeal, a lot, to Sideshow Steve and Airshow MacKay but they're boneheads, complete idiots when it comes to shooting up stuff.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

It's one thing to waste a decade playing whack-a-mole against a gaggle of illiterate farmers wielding Korean war-vintage assault rifles.   It's quite another to sucker punch someone really big and powerful who would probably do what people who are sucker punched do.


Edstock said...

"what are we going to do if China gets really mad and decides to kick in our door?"

Dude, with what? How are they going to get whatever it is to Canada?

The Chinese not only do not have any aircraft that will do the job, they have no in-flight re-fueling capability, and it's a long way to Canada. Of course, you are aware of the Chinese problem with advanced fan-jet engines.

The Mound of Sound said...

Oh, I don't know, Ed, a submarine launched cruise missile attack, maybe? If they can get their subs undetected right in the midst of a U.S. carrier battle group, I suppose they could get a few near enough to our west coast to give us a bit of payback.

And then there's that SCO business, the Shangai Cooperation Organization, their equivalent of NATO. Seems to me that kicking China's door in would be tantamount to an attack on all SCO partner states, one of which happens to be Russia.

This wouldn't be the equivalent of beating up some dirt poor Afghans, Ed.

Leaving questions of retaliation aside, the good General's comments are yet further confirmation that the F-35 is a first-strike, light bomber.

The Mound of Sound said...

Your comment made me recall something I had read about the PLA's refueling capability. They do have H-6 Badger tankers and will soon deploy IL-78 Midas tankers. The H-6s are also suspected to have a cruise missile capability. All in all, I think if they wanted to give us a bloody nose they could.

The Mound of Sound said...

Wow, turns out the Midas has an effective operational range of 4,536 miles. The Brits were able to get a Vulcan to the Falklands via a multi-stage refueling effort. And what they couldn't do with ships or airplanes they could easily do with cyber-war.

Boris said...

All this forgets those reports about China hacking its way into just about every computer system on this side of the Pacific.

All the Americans (and apparently Canadians for some stupid Conservative reason) can think about is going "kinetic" and kicking in doors. China oth is going around buying up access to our resources, and plotting ways to shut down continental air traffic control, power grids, government departments, military communications, etc.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Boris, you're quite right. The Chinese have a vast cyber-capability to which we have a variety of vulnerabilities.

It does seem inherent in a power in decline to underestimate the abilities of its ascendant successor. Look at how stunned we were when China flew the J-20 and then, in short order, the J-31. I think Lockheed was counting on that being 10-15 years down the road.

Hugh said...

F-35 too big to kill:

The Mound of Sound said...

I believe you're probably right, Hugh. The very future of Lockheed, if it is to have one, is now fixed on the success/survival of the F-35. This is America's top defence contractor and the Bush government is as much to blame, probably more so, than Lockheed for the ridiculous structuring of the F-35 programme.